Former Maine Woman Sentenced to 48 Months for Stealing Over $500,000 from New Hampshire Company
For Immediate Release
U.S. Attorney's Office, District of New Hampshire
CONCORD - Jessica Pechtel, 35, now of Andover, Massachusetts and formerly of Springvale, Maine, was sentenced to 48 months in federal prison today for embezzling over a half million dollars, United States Attorney Jane E. Young announced.
According to court documents and statements made in court, Pechtel was the office manager for a company in Somersworth, New Hampshire. In that role, she had full access to the company’s finances, including its accounting records, bank accounts, and company credit card.
Pechtel used her access to the company’s finances to make unauthorized purchases and transfers of funds to accounts that she controlled. Pechtel engaged in a multifaceted scheme for at least a year and a half to steal the funds. First, she transferred funds from the company’s bank accounts to her own accounts. Additionally, she used the company’s credit card to make unauthorized purchases from retailers such as Amazon or make payments via the online payment transfer system Venmo. Pechtel also drafted 17 unauthorized checks payable to herself that were drawn on the company’s bank account. And lastly, she stole almost $44,000 in COVID-19 relief funds that were intended for the company.
Pechtel also took steps to conceal her embezzlement. For example, she created and controlled a PayPal account in the name of one of her coworkers to transfer funds. Additionally, she manipulated the company’s accounting records to make her fraudulent transfers appear like payments to legitimate vendors.
Overall, Pechtel fraudulently obtained at least $587,219 from her employer. Those funds were used for various personal expenses such as Amazon purchases and the purchase of a boat.
Pechtel previously pleaded guilty to one count of Wire Fraud, in violation of 18 U.S.C. §1343, on March 23, 2022.
“The defendant brazenly stole from her trusted employer’s funds, including COVID-19 relief funds the company received to help it through the pandemic,” said U.S. Attorney Young. “In a sophisticated effort to cover her crimes, she manipulated the company’s record keeping. The repeated cunning that the defendant employed allowed her to steal more than a half-million dollars. Those convicted of violating the trust of others for personal profit will not be tolerated and will be prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law.”
“The U.S. Secret Service is committed to investigating complex fraud schemes that significantly damage the financial stability of small business owners in New Hampshire,” stated Timothy Benitez, Resident Agent in Charge of the U.S. Secret Service. “The outcome is a direct result of the coordination between local law enforcement participating on the Secret Service New England Cyber Fraud Task Force.”
This matter was investigated by the United States Secret Service, the Somersworth Police Department and the Nashua Police Department. The case is being prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorney Matthew Hunter and Special Assistant U.S. Attorney Alexander S. Chen.
On May 17, 2021, the Attorney General established the COVID-19 Fraud Enforcement Task Force to marshal the resources of the Department of Justice in partnership with agencies across government to enhance efforts to combat and prevent pandemic-related fraud. The Task Force bolsters efforts to investigate and prosecute the most culpable domestic and international criminal actors and assists agencies tasked with administering relief programs to prevent fraud by, among other methods, augmenting and incorporating existing coordination mechanisms, identifying resources and techniques to uncover fraudulent actors and their schemes, and sharing and harnessing information and insights gained from prior enforcement efforts. For more information on the Department’s response to the pandemic, please visit https://www.justice.gov/coronavirus.
Anyone with information about allegations of attempted fraud involving COVID-19 can report it by calling the Department of Justice’s National Center for Disaster Fraud (NCDF) Hotline at 866-720-5721 or via the NCDF Web Complaint Form at: https://www.justice.gov/disaster-fraud/ncdf-disaster-complaint-form.
Updated July 7, 2022
Press Release Number: 22-078